Tomorrow night, Kentucky will face Georgia in its first SEC road test, and to beat the Bulldogs in Athens, the Cats are going to have to stop Anthony Edwards. The freshman guard has been phenomenal for Tom Crean’s squad so far, averaging 18.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. At 6’5″ 225 lbs., the former No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class is a scoring machine, capable of driving to the basket, hitting a pull-up jumper, and burning you from the outside; in fact, the more you watch Edwards, the more he looks like the prototypical John Calipari guard, which is why it really sucked when he picked his home-state Georgia Bulldogs over the Cats in February 2019.
With Ashton Hagans’ status uncertain due to a lower left ankle sprain, Kentucky’s backcourt will have to step up to contain Edwards, who would love nothing more than to beat the Cats in his home gym on ESPN. Luckily, several of the players on this year’s team know Edwards from the travel and all-star circuits, specifically Keion Brooks.
“I’ve been playing against Anthony since about third or fourth grade, so I’m very familiar with him,” Brooks told reporters today. “Great player. We’ve just got to do everything we can to make it hard on him and limit his open looks. He’s just a great all-around player. He can score on all three levels of the floor, very good with the ball, a good shooter, so we’ve just got to make sure we’re making it tough on him, limit his open looks and when he does get one, just make sure we’re there contesting.”
Edwards struggled a bit in Georgia’s big win at No. 9 Memphis on Saturday, hitting only 23.5% (4-17) from the floor for 13 points, but in the Bulldogs’ only other game vs. a Top 25 opponent, No. 3 Michigan State in the Maui Invitational, he was sensational, scoring 37 points, including seven threes. I’d be willing to bet his performance tomorrow night will be more like the latter than the former.
“The No. 1 thing is he has a tremendous package of gifts that are God given,” UK assistant Joel Justus said of Edwards. “I think he’s a young man that’s a hard-working guy that plays to his strengths. When you have talent, the best thing that you can do is to do what you do well and do it often.”
Two years older than Edwards (who reclassified from 2020 to 2019), Immanuel Quickley only knows his game from television, but is well aware of the challenge ahead, especially if Hagans is out or limited.
“He’s like 6-6, really strong, athletic, can shoot, can create his own shot, which in turn makes his teammates better because you’re spending so much attention guarding him. We’ll have a tough task guarding him tomorrow.”
The spotlight will be on Edwards tomorrow night, but don’t forget what Hagans did the last time Kentucky played in Athens. Last year, the Cartersville, Georgia native balled out against the school he was formerly committed to, putting up 23 points (9-18), four assists, and four steals in the Cats’ 20-point win. If there’s any way he can go tomorrow night, he will, and the matchup between him and Edwards will be popcorn-worthy.